5 Causes of Server Downtime and how to Mitigate them

Server downtime is a major problem for any website, yet many people don't know what causes it. In this blog post, we will be discussing 6 common causes of server downtime and how to mitigate them. The first thing you need to do when your site goes down is figure out the cause. This can be done by monitoring server load or looking through logs for errors that might have occurred at the time of failure. We'll discuss these things in detail below!

1. Server Downtime Causes: Bugs

Every time you make some changes to your website, you are inevitably introducing bugs. This is why, before pushing an update you should thoroughly test every feature of your website, especially the business-critical ones. If you don't have unit and integration tests in place, now might be a good time to start!

When it comes to server downtime caused by bugs, the best thing you can do is find them early and fix them before they become too widespread. To do this, it is crucial that you keep logs of everything that happens on your server, every request, and especially every failed request and every error!

You should also make sure that your test environment matches as closely as possible with production because otherwise, some issues may never surface.

2. Server Downtime Causes: High Load

High server load is usually caused by a sudden influx of visitors to your website. Load testing can help you identify if the servers will be able to handle the additional traffic before it happens. Mitigations: Add more hardware resources, such as RAM or processing power; this may require spending money on new equipment.

Run your website on easy-to-scale hardware, even better if it scales automatically. You can do this using autoscale groups on AWS ECS or by running your application on a Kubernetes cluster for example. Make your application more efficient. Is your frontend application making 10 calls when just 1 would suffice? Are you using a CDN for everything that's static? Do you have a cache layer between your backend and your database?

3. Server Downtime Causes: Hardware Failure

Hardware failure just happens sometimes. You can't do anything about it except to make sure that your server is backed up and be prepared for a hardware failure when it happens.

One thing you should do in preparation, though, is monitoring the performance of all of your servers so you're able to quickly identify which one has gone down if this ever occurs. Your uptime monitor is your best friend here. (PS check UpTimeLine !) If you have a Kubernetes cluster, for example, then there are tools to examine the performance of all your pods and containers across that server infrastructure. This helps because if one pod starts slowing down significantly or has failed outright, you'll be able to tell which node is having problems so you can fix it. Better yet, your Kubernetes cluster could be set up so that if one node goes rogue, it automatically provisions a new node in that node's place by communicating directly with AWS.

4. Server Downtime Causes: Software Failure

Software failure is the most common cause of server downtime. Your application relies on a lot of layers of third-party applications. Starting from the operating system, and all of the drivers running on it. These are very complex applications, and for security reasons, it is important that they be updated. However, sometimes updates can break things.

Make sure that you have a script to create a new instance of your server in just a few minutes (like a Docker image or an initialization script), and that all your data is regularly backed up so that if anything were to go south, you wouldn't take a big hit.

5. Server Downtime Causes: Network Issues

Network issues are another common cause of server downtime. If your application relies on a lot of third-party servers, and if one goes down, it can bring many others with it. Sometimes this is unavoidable (like an internet service provider going under), but you'll want to make sure that all the applications your site uses have failover options. If uptime is extremely important to you, you might want to limit the number of third parties you strictly depend on.

The common mitigation The common thing to all the above is that if you know right away, you start working on a fix right away. That's what uptime monitors are for! If you don't have one right now, you can use our service which offers up to 50 monitors free, or you can use one of the countless others out there! If you're using an uptime monitor, they'll send you an alert as soon as there is server downtime so you or your team can get to work right away!